Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Two decades since Clinton announced he was running for President

There are too many anniversaries happening this year - many of them cover events which happened 3 decades ago, like the wedding of Charles and Diana, and Bucks Fizz winning the Eurovision Song Contest.

In a way, though, I was still a bit of a child then. It's actually worse to think that things that happened when I was unmistakeably an adult are now 20 years old.

Take, for example, yesterday's 20th anniversary of Bill Clinton announcing he was running for President. Before then, hardly anybody had heard of the governor of Arkansas.

The Clinton Foundation put out a video yesterday to mark the occasion, showing us a very rose tinted view of what Bill Clinton brought to the world.

Of course it's a bit schmaltzy, these things always are. But I do think he was a good President on the whole. Bosnia and Northern Ireland are better places today partly because of his administration's intervention. His White House had its heart in the right place, even if it did fall short on things like health care.

The video doesn't cover the dark moments, of course, the "bimbo eruptions" as Mary Matalin famously and drunkenly described the revelations about Clinton's private life. And you have to remember that this was the Government that introduced the iniquitous "Don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding LGBT members of the armed forces.

On the whole, though, Clinton's administration was a good one. His campaign, with its emphasis on "the economy, stoopid" has provided inspiration or a generation of political types. The way it essentially turned a negative statement - that Bush was rubbish on domestic policy and the economy - into a hugely positive campaign message that swept people along in a  wave of optimism - has been replicated many times, with Labour here in 1997, the SNP in Scotland 10 years and 14 years later being strong examples.

Of course, now, we have his wife Hillary as one of the best Secretaries of State the US has ever had. She's quietly getting stuff done for women across the world. I really wanted her to win the Democratic nomination in 2008 but in many ways this is where she is needed right now. However, I still have hopes that she might go for the Oval Office again in 2016. Yes, she'll be 69 then, but Reagan was 70 when he was elected. Hillary will have much more gravitas than he ever had.

Nobody really believed that Bill Clinton would win the White House, or even the Democratic nomination way back in October 1991. A combination of the real ability to connect with people, a very well-run campaign and a fair amount of luck - along with the Democratic Party being overjoyed with itself that it had found somebody with a projectable soul after the worthy but dull Mondale and Dukakis  - propelled him into the presidency after a dramatic and highly enjoyable and campaign.

Clinton's campaign song told us not to stop thinking about tomorrow - but looking back to those heady days even at two decades distance, still inspires.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails